“As he started to tell me about his war experiences, I was amazed and overwhelmed.”

Karl (Carl) Schlesinger of West Roxbury was born in 1917 in Breslau, Germany and survived over six years in Nazi concentrations camps. He now resides in West Roxbury and at age 98, shares his many stories including being arrested as a “German spy”, surviving in Auschwitz, and having his life saved by a German prisoner.

In 2008 Karl’s wife, Eva, also a Holocaust survivor, passed away. At this time, with the help of his Ethos Home Care Manager, he approached Ethos’ Friendly Visiting Program looking to relieve his loneliness and to find a companion to share his life stories. About the same time, a new volunteer came to Ethos looking to make meaningful connections with elders; beginning at a young age, this volunteer has held a fondness for elders and she has a special connection to Holocaust survivors as her roommate in college was an Auschwitz survivor.

The two were matched in Ethos’ Friendly Visiting Program and meet together once per week in at Karl’s home, exchanging their different views on various topics, reminiscing though old photo albums, and most importantly, sharing stories of their lives and family. Karl’s volunteer describes her fascination with his life, “Although all lives are different; most lives are not as unbelievable as Karl’s life has been…When we get together we chat about our previous week, sometimes we look at Karl’s scrapbook which is endlessly fascinating. Last week we watched a tennis match. We chat. We’re pals. Seeing Karl is the high point of my week, every week.”

Extraordinary elders, like Karl, are looking for your companionship! To volunteer in Ethos’ Friendly Visiting Program please contact Meg Barhite, Director of Counseling and Supportive Services, at mbarhite@ethocare.org or 617-522-6700 Ext 323.

To hear about the bond of this extraordinary pair, and more of Karl’s amazing life story, check out these videos!

Watch Karl tell his full story!